3. Enacting emergency procurement policies and procedures

Note: If location is using PeopleSoft the system procedures will not change.  To expedite transaction in PeopleSoft Country offices are encouraged to set up one emergency department.

When an emergency hits, simplified emergency procurement policies and procedures (CAREs CI Harmonization Policy) should be enacted to ensure that procurement can be fast enough to meet the emergency needs while also ensuring adequate levels of accountability.

Lessons learned have consistently demonstrated that in the first stages of an emergency, regular CO procurement procedures are overly cumbersome or inadequate to deal with the fast-paced and urgent demands required for emergency procurement. Simplified procedures must be put in place for the emergency period, or considerable slowing of the procurement process will result, which will delay the entire relief effort.

Decisions about what modifications to procedures will be applied in an emergency should ideally be addressed through the EPP process and be able to be activated immediately when an emergency is declared. The most effective COs are those that already have emergency procedures documented as part of their regular policies, and they simply need to activate them at the time the emergency is declared. Options and recommendations are included in sections 3.2 and 3.3.

  • Before activating any emergency procurement procedures, first check the donor requirements and restrictions for specific projects. Note: EC manual requires CMP approval for all purchases 100,000. EURO and up. (not PS related but good to note)
  • The Country Director and/or Senior Management team should authorise any changes required to speed up the procurement process.
  • These changes should be temporary and valid only for the 90 days. Any extension must be approved by submitting a waiver – per CAREs CI Harmonization Procurement Policy.
  • The nature of the changes, their validity and duration should be documented clearly, approved in writing by the Country Director, communicated to all procurement staff and maintained on file for audit purposes.
  • Establish a process to review the application of emergency procedures to determine when they should be suspended or extended.
  • Ensure that procedures revert back to normal procurement policy requirements when the duration of waiver ends.

Note that COs are required to follow CAREs CI Harmonization Procurement Policy relating to procurement. If the Lead Member policy and procedures conflicts with the advice below, the Lead Member policy will take priority and shall be binding on all emergency procurement activities. Refer to the Lead Member procurement unit for further advice.

  • Increase limits of approval and authorisation for purchases.
  • Emergency thresholds and approvals should be set up in PeopleSoft through workflow approval. Contact Shared Service Center for further information.
  • Increase check signatory limits.
  • Suspend the requirement for multiple quotes
  • Suspend sealed and public bidding procedures (if this is part of your normal process).
  • Decentralise procurement to enable larger-scale procurement at the field level
  • Relax check-run dates for emergency purchases to help with immediate payments.

Procurement procedures must always comply with individual donor guidelines. However, donor guidelines will normally allow such modifications in an emergency situation, subject in some cases to donor approval. Refer to section 4 below for more information.

A review of good practices and recommendations for procurement was conducted in the five CARE COs affected by the South-East Asian tsunami. Other COs facing emergencies should consider implementing these practices

Approved vendor lists
Approved vendor lists and updated price lists should be established and maintained, specifically for emergency relief items, support services and equipment. These lists should include pre-defined specifications of relief kits to help with faster procurement.

Suspending standard CARE procurement procedures
To achieve more efficient procurement, standard procurement practices were suspended by varying degrees by COs in Thailand, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and India. The policies most commonly modified or suspended were standardised competitive bidding, sealed/public bidding procedures, bid committees, payment terms and receipt procedures. Note in PeopleSoft this is determined by workflow approval. For more information contact the Shared Service Center.

Emergency procurement review committee
If procurement procedures are relaxed, a formal Emergency Procurement Review Committee should be pre-defined as part of the CO’s EPP process. This committee should play a key role to monitor and ensure accountability during the initial period of relaxed procurement procedures.

Increasing procurement purchasing approval authority
To enable faster purchase of relief items, designated CARE staff responsible for implementing emergency response activities was given increased procurement freedom. Such measures included significantly increasing expenditure limits and allowing field-based staff greater spending authority.

Decentralising procurement approval authority and purchasing process
Procurement approval authority was decentralised from the COs to emergency response teams that worked in closer proximity to the affected areas. This allowed direct procurement input and monitoring, reduced transport distances, and the potential for ‘double handling’. Decentralising also avoided procurement and logistical impediments developing at HQ. While decentralising procurement was effective, it was recognised that supervision and monitoring policies and procedures were essential for an effective emergency response.

Implementing ‘sole-source’ vendor purchasing
In some cases, the multiple vendor approach was not feasible due to issues such as time constraints, limited pool of adequate vendors, etc. Sole-source vendor purchasing should be supported by justifying documentation when the operating environment does not efficiently permit competitive bidding.

Focus less exclusively on price
While costs may be higher, priority should be given to the delivery time frame, desired location of delivery, product quality, pre-packing services and capacity to provide the appropriate volume of items on a timely basis. Still negotiate.

Multiple vendors
For large-volume purchases of specific items (kits, water tanks, etc.) multiple vendors may be used to reduce risk of potential ‘failure to deliver’.

Procuring pre-assembled relief kits
Obtaining pre-packaged kits assembled to CARE specifications from selected vendors reduced the burdens on CARE associated with limited warehouse capacity and availability of personnel. CARE Indonesia pre-packed relief items in durable, reusable boxes. These provided recipients with a storage container, avoided garbage and promoted longer-term organisational recognition among recipients, because the boxes were marked with the CARE logo.

Sub-contracting repacking services
In the absence of storage facilities and/or limited staff availability, CARE could consider sub-contracting repacking services (not affiliated with vendors) to prepare relief kits. The service provider would ensure that all kits contain the correct items and that the items are in good condition. CARE procurement staff would conduct random checks of the kits.

Procurement staffing
At the initial start-up of a significant emergency response, quickly assess and adjust staffing levels for procurement as required. Also ensure that appropriate CARE staff members with adequate knowledge and experience of CARE procurement procedures systems are reassigned, to temporarily directly support procurement/logistics activities and/or provide on-the-job training to newly hired staff.

Source: Tsunami Emergency Response-Good Practice Review of Program Support Functions & Systems Report.